Fry and Drew: Artists

‘The Conflict of Man with the Tides and the Sands’, Peter Lanyon

Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry used artwork in their buildings wherever possible. At the University of Liverpool’s Civil Engineering Building (1960), Fry commissioned the Cornish artist Peter Lanyon (1918-64) to design a mural of enamelled tiles. Lanyon created a visualisation of the research into loose-boundary hydraulics, including the movement of rivers, the mechanism of waves and the behaviour of solids suspended in water. He spent months researching hydraulics before attempting to create the image, which is intended to represent the interaction of forces.

13.2.13 lanyon2

Maxwell Fry suggested the use of enamelled tiles as a method of creating a hard-wearing surface that might be applied to a wall of the reception area, immediately opposite the main entrance. The mural consists of 750 standard, 6-inch white tiles that Lanyon painted and then fired in a kiln. This process has ensured that the texture of each brushstroke is discernable on close inspection, giving added movement to the work. In some cases Lanyon adheres to the lines of each tile, while other sweeping strokes break up this rectilinear pattern:

13.2.13 lanyon detail

Much of this information was taken from a write-up on Lanyon’s work situated next to the mural. Visit it if you can – the pictures don’t do it justice!

Images © Jessica Holland.

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